Salt-cured meat was a staple of daily life in the days before refrigeration. Salting raw meat not only dries it out, the salt binds the water molecules inside of the meat, giving bacteria no water to feed on. Using a dehydrator is one way to make dried beef, but it is not necessary. Brining the meat in boiling water to kill bacteria and drying it in the oven will give you an authentic version of what pioneers and pirates carried before electricity made refrigeration accessible.
Preheat your oven to 140 F.
Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.
Add 1/8 cup of salt for every qt. of water and stir it with a wooden spoon until it is completely dissolved.
Place the meat strips into the boiling water and let them cook for at least five minutes to kill all possible bacteria.
Remove the boiled, salted meat strips with tongs and pat them dry with paper towels.
Place a rack on top of a baking sheet and arrange the salted meat strips on top of it. Be sure that the meat strips are not touching each other.
Put the baking sheet into the oven and let the meat slowly dry. Check it after three hours to see if it has dried to your preference.
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